Container ship Escape sails in circles

The Dutch container ship Escape sailed in circles on the North Sea north of Vlieland for hours on Tuesday evening due to problems with the rudder. A tugboat managed to make a towing connection around 2.30 am. The Escape will now be taken to a safe place. The Dutch Coastguard reported this in the night from Tuesday to Wednesday.

Instead of going in circles is there a reason not to shut down the engine, maybe put it a bit in reverse and then anchor? Depth there is about 20-25 meters.

I think there are power cables and wrecks on the seabed in that area, might not be advisable to drag an anchor on the seabed.

The UK MAIB recently released a safety warning reminding marines not to misuse anchor systems, lot of cruise ships have lost anchors and chains around the UK since October due to misuse.

1 Like

These ships are now in attendance at the site.


Coastguard vessel Guard.

Tugboat Multratug 29

Nice rigs.

They might have been learning how to steer without a rudder.

I’ve seen it. We were a couple days from the USEC east-bound for Europe.

Third mate was on watch but I happened to come up to the wheelhouse on some clerical task. Third mate called the captain and he came up.

The Russian ship was running full speed and claiming they had no rudder control. Captain came to the bridge and asked on the VHF “What’s going on?”.

Russian comes back; “Is long story”. Captain says, Ok, go ahead".

They wanted to get close to the coast to save on the towing bill. They said they would stop from time to time to adjust the rudder and then carry on for a bit more.

Don’t know but maybe wind was keeping the heading more or less constant and they were adjusting the leeway by rpms.


You could use drogue steering as an emergency steering possibility. If not available it is not too difficult to improvise one on board the ship. A prerequisite is that the rudder is amidships. The trick is to get the ship on the required course before proceeding. This can be done by making use of the wheel effect of the propellor(s).

Once underway the ship will probably slowly drift off course by the same wheel effect, wind, waves and current. I suppose some of these forces will cancel each other which can improve course keeping. It must be possible to change course by going astern, creating an opposite force.

Patent pending.

In Indonesia in the 1970s you had to help yourself if you run into problems.
There was a small cargo ship that suffered steering gear fault.
They used a wooden hatch board on two wires that was heaved from side to side by the capstan on the poop deck to get close to a port with repair facilities.

1 Like